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Hamlet Act I Analysis

Updated October 18, 2020
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Hamlet Act I Analysis essay

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Act I. I

The scene revolves around the supernatural aspects. The ghost appearing in front of the two skeptic people and vanishing without uttering a single word gives lot of room for speculation and story to build around. The ghost remains mystery as none of the characters in the play knows whether the ghost is of former king or the ghost just took former king’s appearance. Everything is this scene is mystery which is sufficient enough to pique interest in the play.

Shakespeare very wisely chooses the word that ghost speaks and very nicely expresses the emotions flowing from young Hamlet. Also, the play was from Elizabethan era. The play would easily captured the interest of Elizabethan audiences. The ghost did not speak any word when it appeared for the first time, making it more mysterious. When ghost king tells how he was murdered, the entire scene sets the plot in motion by establishing the conflict and introduces the melodrama.

A) Appearance Vs. Reality: Hamlet has gone insane due to his father’s death and his mother marrying Claudius, his uncle. Besides that it seems like Ophelia rejecting him also triggered this insanity. However, in reality Hamlet is pretending his insanity to find out the real intentions of Claudius and reveal the mystery surrounding his father’s death.

B) Disorder: From the very beginning there is disorder. A ghost appearing in the Elizabethan Era is a clear sign of disorder as soul is supposed to be either in heaven or the hell. This also symbolizes that things are not in order in the kingdom that is why King Hamlet has not been able to leave. These instances are confirmed by the last sentence by Hamlet “That ever I was born to set it right”.

C) Revenge: The entire play revolves around the revenge. The ghost of the late king Hamlet appears and induces Hamlet to take revenge on Claudius, who intentionally killed his brother to claim the throne.

Act I. II

Claudius is a very good ruler. He is able to keep the country safe by avoiding wars and acting more diplomatically. He is a wise king who is able to keep his nation safe from unnecessary destructions. King Hamlet is a stern warrior whilst Claudius is a politician who knows how to play with language. King Hamlet would have gone for war as a response to Yong Fortinbras, however, Claudius handled it with intellect.

In his first soliloquy, Hamlet is sadly expresses his mother marrying, Claudius, his uncle just after few weeks of his father’s death. He proudly compares his father to be far superior than his uncle.

Act I. III

What is the meaning of Ophelia’s words in lines 45-51?

Ophelia is trying to convince her brother that she would keep the suggestion as watch dog of her feelings. Also, she ask her brother to show her good path she should follow that may lead her to the heaven. These words hint that Ophelia knows she is going to die soon
Laertes and Polonius both are wary that Hamlet would deceive Ophelia as he is young and ultimately will become king. For political or any other reasons, Hamlet could deceive her and ignore his vows for Ophelia. This tells that both Laertes and Polonius love Ophelia very much and would keep her safe. Ophelia, however, does not seem as wary as her brother and father and still somewhere hopeful to get married with Hamlet.

Act I. IV

In the first few lines Hamlet bitterly comments on the King’s propensity for wines and revelry. Hamlet reveals the appearance versus reality for Claudius by highlighting the weakness of the King for wines and revelry. In these few moments, Hamlet seems to be more critique than a prince who wants to know the reality. This also shows indicate towards the hatred for Claudius. The entire mood of Hamlet shifts from a curious son to a king-hating-rebel.

Despite the unknown intention of the ghost and its danger, Hamlet follows the ghost to know what ghost has to say. This behavior shows that how much Hamlet wants to know who killed his father. Hamlet seems to have lost this intellect to the emotions as he ignored the danger of following a ghost.

Act I. V

Although Hamlet has no evidence, he has huge suspicion that his uncle killed his father to claim throne. When ghost revealed that his uncle was the murderer Hamlet was not surprised as the ghost was just confirming what he has already thought about. Hamlet’s reaction “ O my prophetic soul” also hints that he already suspected such crime.
Compare the first response to the ghost’s call for revenge (29-30) with his statement at the end of the scene (190-191). How do your account for the difference between these two responses?

From the first response Hamlet is extremely furious avenging his father’s death. However, in the second response he seems quite calmer and logical as he is able to grasp the significance of his actions. Hamlet is going through great inner conflict as killing his own uncle and his mother’s new husband is against his religious beliefs.

Hamlet Act I Analysis essay

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